Report: ACORN by another name is just as rotten

J. Arthur Bloom Deputy Editor
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When scandals expose systemic voter fraud in your organization, Congress seizes your bank account, and a popular YouTube video shows your employees helping a pimp and a prostitute break the law, there are few avenues open to you. Unless, of course, you change your organization’s name and hope no one notices. A new report from Judicial Watch alleges that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), did just that.

The report explores some state-level “front groups” and national ACORN-affiliated organizations that have sprung up on the heels of the disgraced group’s bankruptcy filing. Former ACORN employees founded many of these groups, and several operate out of ACORN’s former offices.

“[R]umors of ACORN’s demise are vastly overstated,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton writes in the report.

“ACORN and its partner in crime Project Vote are both alive and well and operating across the country. Given the corrupt activities of these organizations, there is no question they pose a threat to clean and fair elections in 2012. And the fact that the Obama Justice Department will take no action to address the corrupt activities of ACORN and its thinly disguised spinoffs is a scandal in and of itself.”

The Judicial Watch report draws particular attention to inaccuracies and potential fraud in ACORN’s bankruptcy filings, which are now being investigated by the Louisiana Attorney General and U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Louisiana’s Attorney General has stated the belief that ACORN had around $30 million in assets — $20 million in cash holdings and $10 million in property — a number far below what it declared in its filings.

Former ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis incorporated her newest project, The Black Institute, less than two months before she announced ACORN would be closing its doors.

After an undercover video by conservative provocateur James O’Keefe went viral in 2009, the public got a rare look into the inner workings of ACORN. Among other things, the organization’s officials were caught on camera providing advice about how to evade taxes and circumvent immigration and prostitution laws. Under intense public pressure, President Obama — a former ACORN legal consultant — ultimately stripped ACORN of all its federal funding.

Lewis and others behind ACORN see unethical behavior and congressional rebukes as a simple marketing problem, according to Judicial Watch. In an interview with The Root, she described ACORN’s split into a large number of state and national-level organizations with essentially the same mission as “18 bulletproof community-organizing Frankensteins that they’re going to have a very hard time attacking.”